There was a time when I endeavored to spend as much time on film and television sets as possible so I could observe directors, actors and production teams at work. I was quite successful at this and at one point secured some minor bit of work on a Dean Martin film, The Wrecking Crew, that would be shooting for a few days on location in Palm Springs. This film would turn out to be the last in the Matt Helm series--a sort of James Bond knock-off that didn't take itself very seriously. I was told to report to the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway whose cable cars carried passengers 8500 feet above the desert floor to the top of Mount San Jacinto.
Normally, the cast and crew of a production are mandated by union rules to be transported to and from locations by the transportation department, which is to say the Teamsters. In this instance, I was granted an exception. While I wanted to make the trip in my recently acquired GTO, it was undergoing a complete engine rebuild and I drove to the location in a Ferrari Berlinetta Lusso instead. It was a fun, high speed drive out from Los Angeles and the crew had already been shooting when I arrived at mid-day.
The cable car delivered me to the top of the mountain and I was able to observe the flurry of activity that is a movie set. Half of the people were working diligently, the other half waiting for them to finish so they could go to work. One of those waiting was a beautiful woman, one of the film's leading ladies. I remember her sitting in her 'director's' chair that had her name printed across the back. I hadn't heard of her but she was something special. As I recall, she was wearing a pink outfit and pillbox hat that Jackie Onassis would have worn. Though she was not in the scene that was being set up, she chose not to withdraw to some private area and hide herself away. Sitting there in the middle of all the activity she was apart but not aloof. It also seemed to me that she enjoyed being there; much of this industry going on around her was ultimately setting the stage for her. She was an extraordinary woman who radiated a sense of serenity. Her name was Sharon Tate.
Throughout the rest of the day, I took notice of another blond woman on the set. She was getting a lot of notice and attention from cast and crew alike. One after another, the males on the set made their pilgrimage to flirt with and hit on her. From my vantage point, nobody seemed to have scored any points but the parade continued and it kept things interesting to see who would try next and to anticipate the result.
When we wrapped for the day, a bus took most of the cast and crew down the hill to our hotel in Palm Springs. I left somewhat later but blew past the bus as it was about half way down the tortuous road. Later, when everyone had been delivered to the hotel, I found myself checking in at the counter next to the mystery blond who had been getting so much attention all day. As we were being given our room keys, I asked her if she liked Chinese food. She smiled and told me she loved Chinese food. "How soon can you be ready?" I asked. She told me to collect her in twenty minutes and held up her room key for me to see the number. As she walked away, I became aware that many of the men who had made their attempts with her that day had just witnessed what had happened. She was almost twice my age and I don't think they appreciated that a teenager had succeeded where they had not. C'est la guerre.
As it happened, she really did like Chinese food. I think she liked the Lusso, too. After dinner, we sat by the hotel pool talking for what seemed hours. Later, she took me by the hand and we left the pool and the small talk behind.
Every experience I've had on a movie set was incredible. This one was, perhaps, the most memorable and a landmark for me.
How to Shoot a Feature Film in 15 Days (And Survive to See Profits)
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Examples of Responsive Reactions
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Action/ReAction at Stella Adler
Point of Departure
A Series of ONE...
Stephen and Dragonuk
Stephen Mitchell webinar for Stage 32
Ferrari GTO 3987 at speed by Yan denes
Ray D. Shosay's Journal
Dispatches from a (junior) suite in Paris
Ray D. Shosay's Journal (excerpt)
"Saturday, January 27, 2007
They say you can fool some of the people all of the time. Accordingly, I think we should concentrate on this group initially. We can move on to the people you can only fool some of the time at a later date if we deem it necessary. I hope to hear back from my agent about this as soon as he's out of rehab, as I don't think my messages have been getting through."
Ignorance is Bliss by Stephen Mitchell
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Exerpt from Ignorance is Bliss
"Out of the corner of his eye, Martin saw Martha shift in her seat. She leaned forward, as though something was about to be decided. This caused her breasts to push up against the neckline of her dress in a way that couldn't be fully appreciated out of the corner of one’s eye. So, Martin turned his head to look directly into the abyss of her cleavage. He was vaguely aware that Murray was talking again."
Carrera Panamericana (1950-54)
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Ferrari GTO 3987
Elysée Wednesday: Drive!
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“You ought to meet Steve. The two of you have the same kind of Ferrari.”
Ferrari Berlinetta Lusso
One evening, I was enjoying a John le Carré novel and a glass of Bordeaux...
L'art de l'automobile
My first Lusso prior to restoration
It was only after Sinatra was gone...
Once upon a time...
Meeting Enzo Ferrari
I came across this on a late night stroll in Paris near the Louvre.
I bought Bentleys in England and Ferraris & Maseratis in Italy to re-sell in Los Angeles as a teenager. I met Enzo Ferrari, Juan Fangio and Steve McQueen. I 'grew up' on the set of Mission: Impossible and other episodic TV series of the era. For a few years, I owned a Ferrari GTO that is owned by Ralph Lauren today and valued at approximately $52M. I began my film career by writing, producing and directing Montmartre in Paris in French. I founded and ran a repertory company for film & TV for 20 years in Los Angeles. I created a TV series which had fans that included Marlon Brando. I authored the first new acting technique--Action/ReAction--that was not based on Stanislavski's Method. I am currently writing my third novel and shooting my spy thriller Exigence. If you can't make movies, live your life as though you were in one...